Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009 ULTIM ATE

To All
A
HAPPY and HEALTHY
2010

The Plainfield that was
Cedar Brook Park 60s

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

ALMOST A PENULTIMATE 2009 POTPOURRI

Kudos to Wendy Burney for becoming a member of the Union County United Way which has evolved from an umbrella organization as I knew it as a Board Member in the 70s to become the allocation coordinator in the County. It is unfortunate that the National scandal of 1992 did such damage to the local chapters who really are the life blood of the organization.

The concept of the the United Way to have one central charity fund raisers in a community rather than having multiple fund drives by many agencies is a good one. Unfortunately long ago it no longer became the sole fund raiser for the various services on its list, but just another contributor who was sorely needed.

Premature Congratulations to Annie McWilliams as the designated selection as Council President.

If I should be nice to her perhaps the Council will realize that the semi-monthly meeting is not only more efficient, but gives me an extra night or two for something to do.

Perhaps in her revision of the Council working rules; during the Public comment session the citizen will if any of his time remains, have the opportunity to either clarify his statement or ask the responder delineate his response.This can be done without risking "debate" and will satisfy the intent of the the public session rather than just to give the rabble a chance to make some noise that some Councilors pretend to listen. Although the last statement is 90% fallacious, it is a fact that much more than 50% of the answers given did not address the question.

This past year has been notable with the marked increase in individuals' comments on the operations of the three major municipal organizations; The City Government itself, The PSS, and the PMUA. Not only does it seem that many of the leaders in these bodies seem to have forgotten when once in place that they represent the people not their own agenda. The problems that seem to exists with all is mind boggling. However unless there was or is sufficient identifiable malfeasance, nothing will ever come from individual bloggers or responders dissatisfaction.

The citizen's group that formed in response to the Muhlenberg fiasco should be a guide to what is needed. There should be formed an organized non political volunteer citizens watch dog group to collate all gripes and as a group lobby the body in question for corrective action. If there be any hint of misuse of public funds this group could seek proper authority intervention. A sizable even semi cohesive citizen body can go a long ways in correcting Plainfield's ills. The one important thing is that the leadership and the membership remain apolitical., that will be the difficult task.

Who should be the organizers? I could name a few youngsters, anyone under my age, that have the drive and capability to do so. It only takes a few people to put it together and we do have a nucleus in the Restore Muhlenberg faction. There are also a few very focused bloggers who should be among the leadership.

Once in place there should be a regular meeting schedule. If formal "incorporation" papers may be needed that can be part of the organization research, but I have a gut feeling that it may be so to protect individual officers acting for the group. I have not done any research and this is just flying at this moment. Think about it.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Filler

Oh Hell progress report. The game is meant for five players since on the first deal every card but one is in play and card counters have a chance. With other numbers of players 4 or 6 it is an entirely different game.

Also when the players(?) are from 4 generations it becomes a weird game. Also when the patriarch has to act his age and let the two younger generations win, that is something else. And when a 5 year old who is left handed and whose numbers are sometimes backwards is keeping(?) the score the game enters another time warp.

A good time is enjoyed by all, and although I have claimed executive privileges and do not keep score which the lowest payer the previous game must do, I have not had to delegate that to anyone. Let the games continue.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Why!

Oh Hell"" didn't win a game last night. (See 12/24 blog) and best is not good enough but when they gang up on you at make a 3 win the trick what can you do. Why me?

While on the what the why and can you do track, why must the Council reorganization meeting be on New Years day when any city employee must be paid overtime? The world would not come to an end if it were held on the first Monday (except when that is 1/1/xx ). There is time for tradition and time for common sense. Also why the spread and other refreshments? The "good feely" status can be eliminated for a penny saved and no one should object.

Why do Fed Ex and UPS insist on leaving large and vulnerable packages by the garage door when the sheltered front door with bell is only 10 steps further?

Why does my news Carrier that delivers the Courier and the Times leave only one of the papers?

Why has a local politician made a big deal out of Plainfield receiving the magnificent sum of $250,000.00 in Extraordinary aid while another Union County community received 3 million. And why praise Corzines generosity in unfreezing $195,000 while so many lame duck lucrative appointments were also being made?

Why am I writing this? Well for kickers the mob is off to the "big City" to see Mary Poppins. Suddenly the house has become quiet. What is that strange non-noise?

Why did I receive a letter from the AARP's Insurance Carrier addressed to my wife's Estate stating that she (the estate?) was delinquent in her December Insurance payment? And why when I called to find out if the carrier extended its coverage into "the great beyond" the clerk put me on hold until she found out. When she got back on line and told me not to worry, Social Security had paid the premium after the letter had been sent! When I asked if the Insurance company would refund the erroneous payment I was informed that I had to request it from Social Security.. And some are wishing for universal insurance.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

TRADITION

Twas the day before Christmas and all through the house it was so noisy that I had to escape to my "Den" and post some thing or other.

Do not misunderstand the noise is welcomed although sadly less this year. For forty or more years children, spouses, grandchildren and for the past 8 years great grandchildren have been congregating for a few days in our small house for a few days this time of the year. It was not because for us it was a religious holiday but the one time when nearly every family member could get together as a Family. Siblings even spoke to each other without any of the petty jealousies that are normal in all families.

The real joy of this time of the year was that Helen and I despite ourselves must have been good parents since all looked forward to the opportunity to come HOME. Home being our house at the time not where they were raised.

We all know that travel this time of the year can become difficult because of weather conditions and this year is no exception. The wise ones do not attempt to fly if they can help it. But Amtrack can be an adventure every year with late overcrowded trains. Even the trip from DC to Metropark can be the "train from hell". My daughter yesterday had reservations on what was the first train out of Washington, the previous three having been cancelled. As in the usual good public information mode for which the travel industry is noted, no information was offered. Pam's train ran only 20 minutes late until it reached Philadelphia where it stayed. Passengers were told that there was some electrical problem in the tunnel under the Hudson. She was fortunate for the train was able to proceed after an hour.

Like all families we have a tradition that whenever certain members get together for the past forty years there is an ongoing card game, "Oh Hell". When played by five or six" killer" card players it is quite competitive. No money is involved just bragging rights and not having to keep score.

I am sure that most pf you know at least a variation of the game. Briefly if five are playing every one is dealt 10 cards the first hand, and one less each subsequent hand. A card is turned up as the trump suit and clockwise from the dealer each player bids the number of tricks he/she expects to take. If made you get 10 points plus the number of tricks taken, and the highest score at the end wins. The two goals are of course making your bid and giving the shaft to one of your opponents. It is a simple game that takes some degree of card sense. The name is obvious if you don't make your hand.

In the spirit of the season, I shall refrain for days making any comments about how many of the 100 Senators have any idea what is in their version of the Health Care Bill passed to day. We hope that some of the news media will put a team reading all 2000plus pages and expose all the pork and delayed implementation that is making this unacceptable legislation a farce. We need a good plan and their is faint hope that the politicians will come up with one in three weeks when they reconvene.

Also under goodwill to man, I will postpone my comments on JG's today's post.

To one and all, Peace and Goodwill to all on Earth and enjoy a happy pleasant Holiday.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

HC MEMO

Instead of just another response to a comment , this is to Olive O and all concerned. Read her comments in the previous health care post.

Olive, the bill that will be passed if anywhere near its present forms in either house is only 90% BS, more or less another 10%. In the end when everything is in effect 5 years from now, 6% of t he population will be uninsured and we will find that overall care is limited. Black is black and white is white no matter what names you may use and that applies to the provisions of the bill. The true cost for less than advertised is being to become astronomical.

If the politicos were honest they would insist on a public option pool covering everyone at a set premium not risk or age determined. But then the majority of the public will object because their premiums would rise.

My fear is that in order to control costs there will be a sharp limit in benefits either by delay or by quota. Providers will be treated as indentured servants and the good ones will drop out of the system. Ultimately a two tier system, private and public funded will be in place with a marked degree in the level of care.

One of the cost factors forgotten in the spin is a mandatory large cut in Medicare reimbursement to physicians.Democrats got AMA support by a new separate bill that cancels that cut.

And the humane question of the illegals is ignored. Of course how can you give someone who doesn't exist the basic rights of humanity? The fact is no one wants to admit that they are human.

minor corrections 4:30 pm

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

HEALTH CARE STATUS.

Aside from the two probable road blocks on a compromise bill. The deal breakers are the abortion issue and the public option.If some arrangement can be found on these two subjects there is no reason why a compromise bill will not be worked out after Jan.1, 2010.

The abortion issue is going to be fought in the house and any major change from the Senate version will cause a diversion from the fragile 60/40 split in the Senate. I can find no fault with the Senate's option of having two available plans where there is any Federal subsidy; one excluding abortion benefits and one at a higher premium including it. Under that arrangement a person's beliefs can not be compromised by legislation. This also would eliminate any question of "church creating laws".

The strict prohibitions in the house bill likely may alienate some of the Senate Democrats enough to kill the bill.

I would like to list some of the "blackmail" items in the Senate Bill but time prohibits. Also my post may be limited for the next few days since great grandchildren and their overseers are descending upon me Wednesday.

If I don't post have a happy warm Christmas

Likewise the elimination of the Public Option may cause a defection of the liberal House Democrats. The inclusion will cause the center/right Democrats to side with the Republican s to defeat the bill.

In financing the liberal house would "tax the rich", whereas the Senate would place a 40% excise tax on high cost high value (as to benefits) insurance plans. This is a De Facto rationing of care by making he insurance too expensive. The lobby influences by both unions and insurance companies who are against the Senate version will probably eliminate turn to the House version for financing.

Some other considerations that the public are not yet aware is the fact that most of the positive provisions will not go into effect until the 2013-2015 years, although revenue raisin g provisions will be implemented immediately.

It is also skipped over that there are other unique fiscal factors in the bill that by taking out certain provisions which will be voted under separate future bills, this bill will come close to meeting the goals of cost the President has set. HOWEVER, when the supplement legislation which must be enacted becomes law, the actual cost will have to increase the National Debt, or increase revenue generating action.

Lost in the bills are the many pork belly amendments that greatly up its costs at the expense of services. I urge you to read the newspapers regarding some of them. To approve of the Bills as written s to condone syphoning off funds for personal gain .

Health Care

I am still having problems pasting from a word document. The Times comparison is at :http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2009/11/19/us/politics/1119-plan-comparison.html

NO POTOPURRI

Apology. I had prepared three days of comparing the House and Senate Bills on Word, to copy and paste onto my blog. It has always worked well including yesterday, but for some reason I have suddenly become unable to do the simple procedure. I will post something on the Health Care this PM.

Monday, December 21, 2009

ABOUT HEALTH CARE BILLS. #1

Thanks to the NY Times here are some differences between the House and Senate Plans. These will have to be compromised before a final bill is passed. This doesn't include any of the pork belly amendments that have been attached Io the bills , like Nebraska receiving complete Federal Subsidies for Medicaid in perpetuity. Good old Senator Nelson made out like a bandit for his # 60 vote,

Each day I will post a few of the problems.

Require that most Americans have a minimum level of health insurance or else pay a penalty.

House version

Includes mandate.
Penalty: Tax equal to 2.5 percent of adjusted gross income over certain thresholds ($9,350 for individuals, $18,700 for couples).
Exemptions: American Indians, people with religious objections and people who can show financial hardship.
Senate version
Includes mandate.
Penalty: $95 a year per person in 2014; $350 in 2015; $750 or 2 percent of a household’s income, whichever is greater, in 2016 and beyond. No penalty if the cost of cheapest available plan exceeds 8 percent of household income.
Exemptions: American Indians, people with religious objections and people who can show financial hardship.


Require most employers to contribute to the cost of coverage for some or all of their employees.

House version

Require employers with annual payrolls of $500,000 or more to offer coverage to employees or pay a new federal tax.
Penalty: Up to 8 percent of wages in payroll taxes. Employers with payrolls of $500,000 to $750,000 would pay 2 percent to 6 percent of wages, and those with payrolls above $750,000 would pay the full 8 percent.
Employers would have to contribute at least 72.5 percent of the premium cost for individuals and 65 percent for families for the lowest-cost plan that meets the minimum benefit requirements set by the government.
Senate version
Would not explicitly require employers to offer coverage. But a company with 50 or more full-time workers would pay a penalty if it does not offer health benefits and if any of the workers obtain subsidized coverage through the new health insurance exchanges.
Penalty: $750 for each full-time worker in the company.
Employer’s contribution to health coverage could be converted into a voucher. Workers could use the voucher to shop for coverage on their own through the new health insurance exchanges.

Create health insurance marketplaces, where individuals and employers can shop for insurance and compare prices and benefits.

House version

Would create a national insurance exchange. States could operate their own exchanges, with federal approval.
Open to people who do not have qualifying coverage through an employer or a public program.
Open to employers with 25 or fewer employees in the first year, 50 or fewer in the second year and 100 or fewer in the third year. The exchange could be expanded to larger employers over time, “with the goal of allowing all employers access.”
Until the exchange is established, a temporary program would provide coverage to “those who have been uninsured for several months or denied a policy because of pre‐existing conditions.”
Senate version
States would form their own exchanges. Several states could join together to form a regional exchange.
Open to people who do not have qualifying coverage through an employer or a public program.
Open to employers with 50 or fewer employees, but states could allow employers with up to 100 workers to participate. Starting in 2017, states could also allow larger businesses to participate.
Penalty: Typically $750 for each employee at the firm.

Create a new government insurance plan to compete with private insurers.

House version

Public plan would negotiate payment rates with doctors and hospitals (rather than using Medicare rates set by the government).
The government would allocate $2 billion in start-up money, but beneficiary premiums would have to cover the full cost of the plan. The government would also provide loans to start nonprofit insurance cooperatives.
Senate version
Would not create a public plan. The federal Office of Personnel Management, which provides health benefits to federal employees, would sign contracts with insurers to offer at least two national health plans to individuals, families and small businesses. The new plans would be separate from the program for federal employees, and premiums would be calculated separately. At least one of the plans would have to operate on a nonprofit basis.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

AT LEAST THE SNOW IS CLEAN

From one mess to another. No not the snow storm nor local government and boards, but State and National politics.

Corzine is acting as expected ,filling every vacant board and/or authority position with last minute patronage appointments. That may be considered by some to be a natural happening from a lame duck Governor.

As I type this late at night the Senate still has not passed its version of the Health Care Reform Act. There have been so many amendments added to the original 900 pages t hat it may be approaching 2000 pages. How many Senators do you think have read the entire bill? If more than 5 I would be surprised.

Anyhow the lobbyists for concerned bodies have been busy and to get the 60 votes needed special interests such as insurance companies, academic non patient caring physicians , religious groups, pro lifers and right of choice have been accommodated. To get the 60th vote needed the Govt. has made antiabortion regulations more encompassing to please Senator Nelson of Nebraska.

7am:
With his vote at 1AM the Democrats had the 60 needed to stop the Republican filibuster. There will probably be four more votes today before the Senate Bill is fact. Then the dealings with the House of Representatives starts.

What we will get can be a bastard bill that the pork belliesers will have greatly increased the National debt, not reduced it or even held it in line. Many of the positive provisions will not take effect for two to five years down the road. Among them will be the "public option". The extending medicare to younger individuals will not take effect at once. It will take some time to even understand what is in this bill and delays in implementation will give vested interests time to protect their turf.

DR. GALLON , BOE &PLAINFIELD

My Star Ledger was in the driveway on top of the snow by 9:30 AM. The Courier and NY Times are delivered by the same service and on weekends if it arrives before 8:30 I am lucky. Today of course they will not be delivered.

By Gmail I linked to the Courier's on line edition.The computer screen is not good for these aging eyes, but I am glad I did not miss today's editorial and Jay Cooke's column. I hope the paper reprints them Monday, they are must reads.

The Courier calls for Dr. Gallon's firing. Not withstanding any positiver changes the Kingfish has initiated in the district, he has shown a complete absence of moral and ethical values. No amount of obfuscation or his use of palaver (misleading or beguiling speech) cloaked in an exotic vocabulary can hide the fact that he has deliberately ignored the guidelines of The State Department of Education for personal reasons.

Dr. Gallon's refusal to open personal and complete information about position appointees to the Board is completely unacceptable. The BOE's acceptance of that stance is mindboggling and once again raises the question of whether this elected Board and its predecessors have any concept of their fiduciary responsibility. Obviously the answer is no. How could any Board accept the principle that there were not funds for one book-one student, or adequate classroom supplies .

For too many years the PSS has been hampered by incompetent leadership, often interested i their own agendas not the delivery of quality education. The frequent turnover of superintendents down to school principles, often with the installation of a number of newly elected BOE members has been the most prominent feature of the system in more than a decade. The board has fought with strong leadership and supported ineffectual high livers.

Jay Cooke's response to Board Presidents Cathcart's letter of complaint reinforces the opinion that we need a complete restructuring of the Plainfield School System from BOE to all administrative levels. This may only be accomplished by a State takeover. If so let it be.

I must briefly turn to the other cancer that afflicts our community. That is the city government. Administration can not continue to operate ,as Dr Gallon has done, with complete contempt for the public. We have a Charter whose provisions are ignored more often than honored. Nepotism and patronage is the plague that afflicts us. The Council preaches transparency, it must demand it and act accordingly. Once more ,I will request that the meeting schedule be designated to be in the public's interests not the members desires.

Monday, is time to start the year 2010 right.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

SNOW STORMS

11:15 AM, Sun light is glaring through the clouds and no snow yet. However the storm a northeaster is on its way.

There are some storms that I can remember well. Besides the great storm of 1996 when over 2 feet of snow fell in Plainfield's area the one that stands out most vivid in my memory was the great snow storm of December 1947. I thought it was on Christmas day but the chart says the 26 & 27.

Although this storm did not have a record snowfall it did paralyze the area. What made it most memorable was the New Years Day Ice Storm that followed a week later. I can remember watching the telephone lines falling and being glad when my phone went out. No one could call and I would not have to respond for an emergency. However the Police transported doctors to the hospital if needed.

Another well remember snow storm was in the 60s. Although it was not a record setter it was I believe either on Palm Sunday or Easter. My wife and I had been in NYC playing in a major Bridge Tournament. At the end of the evenings play it was about 11PM and we had to drive home. It had been snowing for several hours but we made good progress along 22, although there were many cars already stuck and abandoned on the highway. We made it OK until we reached our home on Kenyon Ave. There was a long driveway with a sharp left turn at the back of the house. I got stuck on the turn!

Of course the coldest winter I ever experienced was in the Ardenes December 44-Jan 45 where the snow was hip high.

I hope the chart is readable, it is of interest




www.weather2000.com/NY_Snowstorms.


Historical Snowstorms1 Impacting New York City2

YEAR
DATE
"NAME"
TOTAL
NESIS3
COMMENTS
2006
February 11th-12th
Blizzard of 2006
26.9"
3
Largest snowstorm in NYC history, surpassing Dec. 26-27, 1947 (26.4"); rare thundersnow reported
2003
February 16th-17th
Presidents' Day Snowstorm II
19.8"
4
25.6" of snow recorded at JFK Airport; "Presidents' Day Snowstorm I" brought 12.7" on Feb. 19, 1979
1996
January 7th-8th
Blizzard of '96
20.2"
5
Areas of more than 30" across portions of New Jersey; NYC schools closed, first time since Blizzard of '78
1983
February 11th-12th
Megalopolitan Snowstorm
17.6"
4
Occurred during one of the strongest El NiƱo's of the 20th Century
1978
February 5th-7th
Blizzard of '78
17.7"
3
Long Island & New England hardest hit, near hurricane strength winds, thundersnow, 36-hour storm duration
1969
February 9th-10th
Lindsay Storm
15.3"
2
Mayor John Lindsay took the heat after sections of NYC remained unplowed for a week
1967
February 6th-7th
N/A
15.2"
2
Blizzard conditions produced totals of over 20" in parts of New Jersey
1961
February 3rd-4th
N/A
17.4"
4
Storm followed prolonged cold period (16 days of teens and 20's); JFK Airport recorded 24.0"
1960
December 11th-12th
N/A
15.2"
3
20.4" recorded at Newark and 17.0" at The Battery
1948
December 19th-20th
N/A
16.0"
-
20-hour duration; Widespread totals of 12-18" across the Metropolitan Area
1947
December 26th-27th
Big Snow
26.4"
2
The worst blizzard since 1888, and record holder until 2006
1941
March 7th-8th
N/A
18.1"
-
Quick drop-off towards the coast as parts of New Jersey and Eastern Suffolk reported less than 10" of snow
1935
January 22th-24th
N/A
17.5"
-
Snows from Gulf Coast to Maine
1920
February 4th-7th
N/A
17.5"
-
Parts of Westchester received over 20" of snow
1899
February 12th-13th
The Blizzard of 1899
16.0"
4
Temperatures in the single digits for most of the storm
1894
February 25th-27th
N/A
15.2"
-
Before the storm, temperatures started out around 0°F, before rising to just above freezing.
1893
February 17th-18th
N/A
17.8"
-
Followed a warm spell when temperatures reached as high as 54°F
1892
March 16th-18th
St. Patrick's Day Snowstorm
15.4"
-
Largest snowstorm on record for many areas in the South
1888
March 12th-14th
The Blizzard of '88
21.0"
4
Extreme blizzard conditions left behind over 50" of snow in some areas of Connecticut and the Hudson Valley
1872
December 26th
The Great Snow-Storm
~18"
-
Snow fell from Virginia to Maine and West to Mississippi River
1836
January 8th-10th
The Big Snow
~15"
-
Interior sections saw widepread 30-40" tallies
1831
January 14th-16th
The Great Snowstorm
~15"
-
Rivals Superstorm of 1993 for expansiveness of coverage
1805
January 26th-28th
N/A
~24"
-
48 hours of continous snow
1798
November 19th-21th
The Long Storm
~18"
-
Snow from Maryland to Maine